At a dinner party several years ago, my son, age one at the time, was toddling around and fell. My best friend’s wife went to pick him up, to which I said, “Leave him alone.” When she inquired as to why, I responded: “My job is to raise a productive member of society and he needs to learn to get up on his own.” Her reply to me was, “My job is to protect my children.”
In that moment, I realized that the context we create for ourselves is decisive. In this example, context created two completely different ways of acting as parents.
Leadership in the 21st Century
The days of command and control leadership are all but gone in the business world today, especially in the United States; accordingly, I believe today’s leaders will benefit from having a Leadership Context to guide their actions.
Creating Your Leadership Context
Creating a leadership context is surprisingly simple. Here’s a quick “How To” guide to help you create your leadership context:
- Explore why you wanted to be a leader in the first place. Why were you willing to take on the added responsibility of leading others and being accountable for group performance?
- Ask yourself what you are committed to as a leader.
- View your career from the end. You have had a successful career as a leader. What was it about your leadership that the people you led appreciated and valued? What impact did you make on the people you led? What would you want to be remembered for as a leader?
- Craft your Leadership Context. As my architect friend taught me years ago, less is more. Your Leadership Context doesn’t need to be long or complicated. Make it simple. My parenting context was to raise productive members of society. That context is simple and easy to remember.
What I learned over the last twenty years is that having a context for my job as a father has given me access to new ways of being and acting as a father. I know I parented differently as a result; now, I can only hope it made a difference for my boys. Early results suggest it did.